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Outcome of a visit to the MIT Museum and Dinner at the MIT Stella Room (7-338) 

on February 23, 2011 as part of the 
RCC/MIT SPURS-Humphrey Collaboration 

by Participants from Roxbury Community College 
April 4, 2011 

RCC/MIT SPURS-Humphrey Collaboration 
February 23, 2011 
Stella Room (7-338) 


3:00PM -4:30PM 

MIT Museum 

Assemble in Lobby - led by Paula Moreno (SPURS Fellow from 


Introduction - MIT Curator, Debbie Douglas 

265 Massachusetts Ave. (N52), Cambridge, MA 02139 

5:00PM -5:15PM 

5:15PM -5:30PM 

5:30PM -5:45PM 
6:00PM -6:30PM 

Arrival & dinner 

Stella Room (Rm. 7-338) 

Department of Urban Studies and Planning 

77 Massachusetts Ave., MA 02139 



Bish Sanyal (SPURS) 

Jose Alicea (RCC) 

RCC Faculty 

Goals and Expectations of RCC/SPURS Collaboration 

Discussions MIT SPURS Fellows/RCC students 

Christopher M. Jones, MIT Associate Dean for Graduate Students 
Topic: The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Inc. (DSNI) 

6:30PM - 7:00PM Q&A 


Dean lose Alicea's cell phone # 617-671-8541 


Refl3ctions and Impressions 

Jose A. Alicea 
RCC Staff 

Dear Colleagues: 

Thank you for a great time at MIT! So far, all enjoyed a great time and we met 
some wonderful people. The emergent themes continue to captivate and motivate 

I'm sure the notes taken will not do justice to the dialogue; we were just too 
involved in it. So in order to capture the nuances of the day, please write a 
short reflection piece on your impressions of the day at MIT. This can be in 
any literary form. In addition, please contact your participating students and 
have them submit a reflective impression also. I'll compile and share them 
with our RCC group and with MIT. We can refer to the compilation as a stand- 
alone document or use it as data for a larger scholarly work. You may send the 
pieces as Word attachments. 

I'm really excited about this project, especially working with you. 



Introduction to the Poem (below) and Collaboration 

Rhonda Gray 
RCC Faculty 

"The Mandela Plan" offers a literary perspective of the initial meeting to explore collaborations between 
Roxbury Community College (RCC) and MIT SPURS. The title of the poem alludes to a presentation 
made at the meeting by Christopher Jones, Assistant Dean for Graduate Education at MIT, who examined 
the process used by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) to revitalize the Roxbury 
community when it was in financial and environmental distress during the 1980s. DSNl's commitment to 
community-based leadership created a spirit of activism that was echoed by many Roxbury residents who 
petitioned to secede from Boston and be called "Mandela, Massachusetts." A similar charge to be a leader 
in academia and in urban planning was a theme at the meeting and reflected in the biographies of those 
who attended. Also, DSNl's goal to create lasting inroads within the community was demonstrated by the 
emerging partnership between RCC and MIT SPURS. Furthermore, the poem captures the enthusiasm of 
the meeting participants as we enter the planning stage of a partnership that will launch in fall 201 1. 

The Mandela Plan 

(inspired by a collaboration between MIT SPURS and RCC) 

Rhonda Gray 
RCC Faculty 

How does a whisper spin into a twister 
Ready to reassemble a razed nation? 

How does a droplet pour into the ocean 
Birthing fathom-heavy fountains of wisdom? 


One night 

We mused o'er these queries 

While the conductor fine-tuned 

A concerto sweetened by love 

And food 

At the dinner table. 

He presented 

A sumptuous spread of delights 

Giving us the excuse to delight 


Each other. 

The art on the walls couldn't 
Rival the walking art 
Whose colorful perspectives 
Made prismatic landscapes 
Of realities 


The distiller of sonic colors coerced us to 

See the black and white lines that 

Etched our lives creating 


Boundaries and 


About our capabilities 

To secede and succeed 

As a Mandela tribe. 

Wearing decorative stripes 

Flashing amidst Boston's pipeline 

Of innovation, leadership, and creative genius 

We created a Mandela skyline 






At the dinner table. 

How does a whisper spin into a twister 
Ready to reassemble a razed nation? 

How does a droplet pour into the ocean 
Birthing fathom-heavy fountains of wisdom? 

Ask the dinner guests. ..they know. 

But, hey! 

Weren't you there, too. 

Enjoying the conductor's flow? 

It's not enough to bear witness 

To a revolution. 

You must create a plan; 

Be the solution by laying 






Notes : 

1. Key letters are in bold in the phrase "distiller of sonic" to reflect the acronym for Dudley 
Street Neighborhood Initiative. 

2. "Mandela tribe" refers to Roxbury's attempt to secede from Boston, Massachusetts 
creating its own city named "Mandela." 

MIT SPURS/RCC Collaboration Present and Future 

Nasreen Latif 
RCC Faculty 

Our kickoff session was great! The host, the conversation and the presentation were excellent. 
Using my background and experience, I can connect myself, my students and the research 
fellows smoothly with the SPURS program in the near future. I will be teaching the 
Environmental Issues: Honors Colloquium and Urban Economics (with Honors and online 
components) courses in Fall 201 1. 1 am bringing our Urban Economics course back after ten plus 
years because this course perfectly matches up with the MIT SPURS program. I have already 
worked on this course and am taking care of the marketing part of that particular course this 
Spring. In the Fall, Monday and Wednesday afternoon I will teach Environmental Issues and 
Tuesday and Thursday mornings I will teach Urban Economics. Both of these classes are 
excellent opportunities for participation. 

I am looking forward to working with all of you. 

Note: We are the hosting the RCC Garden Celebration, which will be held on April 28 at 
12:30 pm in the cafeteria. Join the celebration and help make Roxbury a greener, healthier, 
stronger place! 

Reflections on RCC/MIT SPURS dinner 

Randy Foote 
RCC Faculty 

Last night's dinner was far more fruitful than I had ever imagined it would be. Our students were 
wonderful and our hosts were gracious. Remarkably, there was a striking and unexpected convergence 
between MIT Dean Chris Jones' well-researched presentation on the Dudley Street Neighborhood 
hiitiative and RCC Dean Alicea's personal experience of that time. In itself, that convergence points to 
the mutual benefit of this collaboration: MIT has world-class scholars and research facilities in urban 
planning, but in certain areas RCC possesses the fundamental personal urban experiences that are 
complementary to MIT's strengths. We at RCC have experienced first-hand some of the best - and the 
worst - aspects of urban planning. I think that this made a strong impression on the fellows, who 
generally come from countries where grassroots political participation is limited. In that respect, we have 
a great deal to offer the SPURS Fellows, as they have to offer our students. 

I was very heartened to see our students discovering that the world represented by MIT was not at all out 
of their reach. Walking the Museum with them, I felt their awe in the face of the remarkable 
accomplishments of MIT — Nobel Prize medals and all — but at the dinner they began to feel that these 
two worlds were not so unbridgeable - that they could indeed aspire to participate on an equal footing. 
Our great goal at RCC is to elevate our students' horizons, and this is such an opportunity. 
I do not yet see the details of a program that can develop. There are many possibilities. The invitation to 
the fellows to join the inauguration of the RCC Urban Garden was a great beginning. I appreciate that our 
students will be invited to presentations at MIT. I think that guest lectures at RCC on selected topics 
could be of value. Perhaps there would be an opportunity for students to assist (during the school year or 
in the summer) in some of the research being done at the Department of Urban Studies: they would be of 
real help in something similar to Chris Jones' DSNI study. In addition to the invaluable exposure to MIT 
talent and resources, participation in this program will certainly help students on their applications to 
four-year colleges. 

Then there is the question of how we can fashion this program to benefit the broader RCC community, 
beyond those students who are specifically involved in the SPURS collaboration. I think that Nasreen's 
ecology work dovetails very well with that in many respects. I see many opportunities on the political 
science front, both as regards political aspects of urban planning as well as accessing the broad 
international experience of the SPURS fellows. Rhonda and Bobby spoke eloquently to the natural 
interfaces of Urban Planning with the Arts. 

But yet - I know there are more possibilities that I am not yet envisioning. This is where we need to hear 
from our students .... 

I think we should have a meeting - soon after mid-term exams — of the faculty and students who are 
involved to discuss possibilities. I know that developing this program will entail a significant amount of 
time, but I believe that it will be well worth it. We might look toward involving a few more students— let 
us discuss how many students we think should be involved. Most of all I want to hear ideas from the 
students as to how they see the possibilities. 

This is a first pass - there is so much more to discuss. I look forward to our next meeting. . ..Randy Foote 

RE: Refl3ctions and Impressions 

Robert P. Stevens 
RCC Faculty 

Jose, I appreciate your coordinating efforts on this project and I apologize for my tardiness here again. I'm 
still adjusting to my new schedule at the school. 

Please pardon my turn of phrase here, but since last week I've been turned on by the thought of engaging 
faculty, students, and fellows in sex talk. You and I haven't talked much about my background but I think 
you know I come from an activist background, too. I've spent years agitating for gay freedom and raising 
money to publish The Guide magazine with its message of sexual liberation. I also recognize the 
explosive nature of the subject. People often get killed in this world if they have the wrong sexuality, 
which is all the more reason to discuss the subject of sexuality, and alternative sexuality, in an open and 
sane manner. I know already that RCC students have a strong interest in discussing sex because we've 
been talking about it in my Elements of Art and Design class this semester. Desmond Morris's Naked Ape 
is the springboard. Coming from a gay activist perspective as I do, my students' ideas on sexuality often 
seem corny and un-thought-through. Worse, discussions often reveal prejudice toward sexual minorities. 

During the round table discussion at MIT last week I joked aside to RCC's Rhonda Gray and the woman 
Humphrey Fellow from Baghdad that I wanted to put sex on the agenda, and they both seemed to like the 
idea. The Fellow motioned to all those sitting around the table and suggested they'd all like to talk about 
sex, too! To my regret the moment passed without my raising the topic. To my surprise and delight it was 
Bish himself who approached me, as the meeting broke up, to raise the point that it would be good to talk 
about sex in the group because there are many emerging gay and lesbian communities around the world. 
While he and I have not yet communicated on the topic I feel strongly we will. 

I was completely charmed by the people at the event. I think Bish is cool. I think the gang from Roxbury 
was cool too, and that we established a two-way dynamic with the MIT crew, whereby each might give 
and receive from the other. A talk about what's happening sexually around the world would be 

More later! 

RCC/MIT SPURS Collaboration 

Tajudeen J Akinbode 
RCC Student 

Roxbury Community College. 

A school so small but most importantly so unique. 

So small in its number of student biomass, 

so unique in its glorious richness of diversity. 

As diverse as the planet earth, yet interdependent. 
Interdependent because of the common bonds of humanity. 
And of the realization that of our individual values, 
irrespective of geographical variances, 
are intricately entwined. 

Never have I seen such a conglomeration of inquisitive minds. 
From all comers of the earth. 
Converge in the heart of Black Harlem, 
For the purpose of learning. 


I can boast of having friends. 

From every corner of Africa and from every cranny of the Caribbean. 
Now I can claim authoritatively, 
with joy unabridged. 

From the historic epitome of Boston's Harlem, 
I interacted with people of all continents; Blacks, blues, whites, and reds 

When I grow old to become a griot, 
I can boast of how I came in close proximity. 
With the representatives of world heritage. 

I can educate younger generations about how great it felt to belong to this community. 
Indeed, then I would tell them, 

In the heart of Roxbury, 
you find in one place, 
what would be hard to find in one lifetime. 

What else could we have desired? 

Out of the collaboration of RCC with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

What else could we have felt the need to pursue? 

Other than for the doors of MIT be opened. 

For its giant doors of inventive and innovative heritage, 

be opened to the ever thirsty minds of Roxbury students 

For through this, we may partake in dinning with the best of human minds, 

when individual accomplishments in the field of technology are eulogized. 

This yearning is not strikingly original, 
for it is synonymous to the desire that moved Melvin H King, 
to push for the establishment of the MIT's Community Fellows program, 
in September 1971. 

While we continue to celebrate the unique opportunities not easily seen in other community colleges, 

we verily should never disregard history; 

so that we would not function out of framework. 

What we would then achieve, 

if we do not allow the goals of founding fathers to fade before our eyes, 

is that. 

In addition to the diversity herein enjoyed, 

the already culturally rich minds of marginalized African and Afro American descendants. 
Can yet point to another unique privilege. 
Of having a strong and sustained relationships, 
with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 



Alexander Lee 
RCC Student 

We live in extraordinary times. The world around us is constantly changing, but what does not change is 
Experience. Wednesday was another example of extraordinary events in our lives. So many people with 
so many backgrounds, together, anything can happen. We RCC students can take a lot from the meetings, 
for example; learning more about the schools origin or how the city of Roxbury came to be. Most 
importantly is the experience. We the students can take the experiences and knowledge's we learn from 
the older generation and help us create new ideas to bestow upon the world. The fellows can also learn 
from this event. They can fine tune and perfect their own knowledge by learning what we know and more 
about how organizations like DSNI came to be. I believe through precise planning and brainstorming we 
can help change the world. 


Was it the room or the people? 

Markysa O'Loughlin 
RCC Student 

The RCC/MIT SPURS collaboration is definitely on my list of great experiences for 201 1. 
As I walked in this room of a unique dimension and vibrant colors, I was impressed. I never saw any 
place like it before. Then along came the people. Almost instantly, the texture and color of the room 
were no longer impressive. 

The discussion was completely dialogical from the outset. No long drawn out speeches. No ego- 
maniacs, no one infatuated with the sound of their own voice. Everyone wanted to hear from each other. 
Everyone had something relevant and important to say. I especially enjoyed Jones' presentation on the 
DSNI. Since I am new to Boston, it was very enlightening for me to learn about some of its rich history. 
The wealth of information I got need not be quantified in dollar terms, it was priceless! Indeed, it is truly 
remarkable when persons from different places, cultures, and ages can come together with a common goal 
of advancing our society. It shows that we are not so different after all, and it shows the importance of 
working together as a collective. 

After the meeting was over, the first impression of the experience became oblivious to me because I 
remember nothing about the room; I only remember the people and their ideas. 



Maxwell Opara 
RCC Student 

Hello Mr. Alicea, this is Maxwell Opara. I attended the RCC/MIT SPURS Collaboration & Dinner last 
month at MIT. At the end of the event, Professor Sanyal posed possible dates in which we could all meet 
and continue our introduction to the topic urban planning. Are those gatherings or meetings still being 
held at MIT? & If so, how would I go about attending those meetings? I hope to hear from you soon. 

Thank you for your time ! 

Respectfully yours, 

Maxwell Opara 


Jose — I thought that my student Sam Rodin sent this to you, but I am sending a copy just in 
case.... Randy 


Sam Rodin 
RCC Student 

I hadn't realized you and I would be the only people there with a real 
political bent. I think this could be a great occasion for RCC students 
to meet foreign professionals and discuss renewal and development— 
perhaps some events similar to the recent forum on youth violence would 
be plausible in the future. (Was Pf. Rhonda Gray involved with that?) 

Most of the academics and professionals at the dinner seem to concern 
themselves with the How and the Why. With a political eye, I feel we 
should remind them of the By Whom. Dudley Square is a beautiful example 
of those without a strong voice speaking up for themselves, but they 
essentially had to resort to dirty tactics and gimmicks to get the job 
done. There should be serious discussion of how to get powerful 
interests involved with urban planning without sacrificing the people 
who live in the planned area. Especially at Roxbury, this is a topic I 
feel would generate a lot of student interest, and I think both the RCC 
students and the SPURS fellows would have insights. As I said at the 
dinner, both groups have a great deal to offer each other. 

Long-term urban planning is what the fellows are primarily learned about; 
last-ditch renewal is something for which the Roxbury community is 
moderately well-renowned. Given the recent international trend in 
participatory democracy the fellows might find use for the immediate 
gain techniques Roxbury knows. Conversely, Roxbury would hardly suffer 
for the inclusion of the long view in the education of a generation of 
RCC students. 

Just a few thoughts,